Affordable Healthcare

What is the Human Right to Health and Health Care?

The human right to health means that everyone has the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, which includes access to all medical services, sanitation, adequate food, decent housing, healthy working conditions, and a clean environment. 

The human right to health guarantees a system of health protection for all. 

Everyone has the right to the healthcare they need, and to living conditions that enable us to be healthy, such as adequate food, housing, and a healthy environment. 

Healthcare must be provided as a public good for all, financed publicly and equitably. 

The human right to healthcare means that hospitals, clinics, medicines, and doctors’ services must be accessible, available, acceptable, and of good quality for everyone, on an equitable basis, where and when needed. 

The reforms resulting form the Affordable Care Act (ACA) over the past several years have led to increases in healthcare coverage. There is broad consensus that an estimated 20 million to 22 million individuals have obtained healthcare insurance since 2010 primarily through the expansion of Medicaid, coverage through parents’ policies for young adults until age 26 years, and the healthcare exchanges.

But that leaves more than 25 million US residents without health insurance. 

Is the United States a just and fair society if so many individuals lack healthcare coverage? 

The United States guarantees all citizens an education, access to fire and police services, a national postal service, protection by the military, a national park system, and many other federal and state funded services. But the country has not yet committed to ensuring that all of its citizens have healthcare coverage.

The months and years ahead are filled with uncertainty regarding how the US healthcare system will evolve.

 

·         Will block granting Medicaid lead to a 2-tiered healthcare system and reduced access, or will it iprove quality and reduce the increase in healthcare costs?

·         If health savings accounts and tax credits replace the individual mandate, will individuals purchase health insurance?

·         Will selling health insurance across state lines truly increase competition and reduce cost, or will it adversely affect the right of states to decide what represents adequate care for their citizens, lead to fewer healthcare networks with less competition rather than more, and create confusion for individuals who will not understand how such an insurance plan works in their state?

·         Will a pool of dollars to ensure coverage of those with pre-existing medical conditions be sufficient, or will these individuals once again be uninsurable?

·         Will the various changes being discussed destabilize the commercial insurance market, leading to higher costs and less coverage particularly for those with pre-existing healthcare conditions?

·         Will these reforms solve the problem of increasingly oppressive cost of care for the working and middle classes and small businesses?

The ACA needs to be modified, even though it has accomplished a great deal, principally by expanding the umber of newly insured individuals. However, much remains to be accomplished, including how to ensure high-quality, affordable health insurance for all residents and how to control the continual increases in annual healthcare spending. 

Whether the proposals currently being discussed will help the United States reach these goals is uncertain, and as the ACA, measuring outcomes will be important. Sorting out the most effective way to provide healthcare coverage in the United States is a work in progress and will require careful assessment and likely repeated changes. If the goals of further healthcare reform are clear and are measured but are not reached, then it will be necessary to return to previous  discussions that have included a public option, a single-payer system, lowering the eligibility for Medicare, or further privatization of the healthcare system. 

Hopefully all physicians, including those who are members of Congress, other healthcare professional, and professional societies would speak with a single voice and say that healthcare is a basic right for every person, and not a privilege to be available and affordable only for a majority. 

The solution for how to achieve healthcare coverage for all may be uniquely American, but it is an exceedingly important and worthy goal, emblematic of a fair and just society.

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Sample Letter To Congress Regarding Health Care Policy 

Date:

United States Senate / United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510 / 20515

Dear Senator / Representative:

Health care is a vital concern for nearly every person in the country.  Discussions on health care reform have reached a level of intensity which is making open and fruitful dialogue difficult, even while most people recognize that improvements to the health care system are needed to ensure a life-giving and sustainable model for both the present and future.  Given the magnitude and importance of the task before us, we call for a new spirit of cooperation for the sake of the common good.

We ask that you consider and honor the following moral criteria as you debate health care policy in the days ahead:

Universal Access: Access to health care must be universal, guaranteed for all on an equitable basis. Health care must be affordable and comprehensive for everyone, and physically accessible where and when needed.

Availability: Adequate health care infrastructure (hospitals, community health facilities, trained health care professionals), goods (drugs, equipment), and services (primary care, mental health) must be available in all geographical areas and to all communities.

Acceptability and Dignity: Health care institutions and providers must respect dignity, provide culturally appropriate care, be responsive to needs based on gender, age, culture, language, and different ways of life and abilities. They must respect medical ethics and protect confidentiality.

Quality: All health care must be medically appropriate and of good quality, guided by quality standards and control mechanisms, and provided in a timely, safe, and patient-centered manner.

The human right to health also entails the following procedural principles, which apply to all human rights:

Non-Discrimination: Health care must be accessible and provided without discrimination (in intent or effect) based on health status, race, ethnicity, age, sex, sexuality, disability, language, religion, national origin, income, or social status.

Transparency: Health information must be easily accessible for everyone, enabling people to protect their health and claim quality health services. Institutions that organize, finance or deliver health care must operate in a transparent way.

Participation: Individuals and communities must be able to take an active role in decisions that affect their health, including in the organization and implementation of health care services.

Accountability: Private companies and public agencies must be held accountable for protecting the right to health care through enforceable standards, regulations, and independent compliance monitoring.

Please act to assure we have a comprehensive Healthcare system for ALL through necessary dialogue, cooperation, compromise, and common sense. Work with your colleagues. Make this happen now!!

Sincerely,


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Number of Americans without health insurance jumped by more than 3 million under Trump

The number of Americans without health insurance increased by about 3.2 million in the first year of Donald Trump's presidency, which featured a series of efforts to undercut the Obamacare law, a new survey finds.

A total of 12.2 percent of all adults now lack health insurance, an increase of 1.3 percentage points since the last quarter of 2016, according to the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index.

The last quarter of 2017 saw no significant change in the uninsured rate, according to the survey.

But that spike in the uninsured rate over the course of 2017 is the biggest single-year increase measured since the survey started asking Americans about their health insurance status in 2008.

The rise in uninsured rates was most pronounced among younger adults, blacks, Hispanics and low-income people.

The increases reverse a consistent series of drops in the uninsured rate since the Affordable Care Act, as Obamacare is formally known, began taking full effect in January 2014.

That year was the first in which most Americans were required to have some form of health insurance or pay a tax penalty, and also the first in which coverage from individual health plans sold on Obamacare marketplaces was available.

In the third quarter of 2013 — the last quarter before Obamacare plans went on sale for 2014 coverage — the uninsured rate stood at 18 percent of adults.

The uninsured rate began plummeting thereafter, falling to 13.4 percent in the first quarter of 2014, and to 10.9 percent by the last quarter of 2016.

An estimated 20 million people gained health insurance coverage through the ACA, which included not only the offering of plans sold on the Obamacare exchange but also the expansion of Medicaid benefits to more poor adults in most states.

But that downward trend in the uninsured rate reversed as Trump took office in January 2017.

The new Trump administration promptly pulled back on enrollment promotion efforts in the last days of the Obamacare open-enrollment season last January. The administration also embarked on a series of efforts to repeal and replace much of the ACA through congressional action.

Those efforts failed last year.

But as Gallup noted in a write-up of its survey's latest findings, "media coverage of the policies to repeal and replace the healthcare law may have caused some consumers to question whether the government would enforce the penalty for not having insurance."

Trump has continued to publicly disparage the law, which in October he falsely claimed did not exist anymore. He also cut back significantly on the advertising to encourage sign-ups in health plans during the recently completed enrollment period.

Other likely causes of the 2017 rise in the uninsured rate, Gallup said, are that a number of health insurers stopped selling Obamacare individual plans through government marketplaces and that, as a result, prices increased for plans that remained on those exchanges.

"This may have caused some Americans, especially those who failed to qualify for federal subsidies, to forego insurance," Gallup's write-up said.

And Gallup noted that "it seems likely that the uninsured rate will rise further in the years ahead," given the effective repeal, starting in 2019, of Obamacare's requirement that most Americans have some form of health insurance or pay a fine.

The tax bill passed by Congress last month included that gutting of the Obamacare individual mandate. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that 13 million more Americans would become uninsured in the next decade because of that repeal, although some analysts say the increase will be less dramatic than that.

Insurance premiums in the individual coverage market are projected to be 10 percent higher than they otherwise would have been as a result of the mandate's repeal. Those price increases are expected to lead some people to opt out of coverage.